Referral and conduct of the inquiry
On 8 February 2017, the Senate established the Select Committee on a
National Integrity Commission (the committee) to inquire and
report by 15 August 2017 on:
the adequacy of the Australian Government’s legislative, institutional
and policy framework in addressing all facets of institutional, organisational,
political and electoral, and individual corruption and misconduct, with
the effectiveness of the current federal and state/territory agencies
and commissions in preventing, investigating and prosecuting corruption and
the interrelation between federal and state/territory agencies and
the nature and extent of coercive powers possessed by the various
agencies and commissions, and whether those coercive powers are consistent with
fundamental democratic principles;
whether a federal integrity commission should be established to address
institutional, organisational, political and electoral, and individual
corruption and misconduct, with reference to:
the scope of coverage by any national integrity commission,
the legislative and regulatory powers required by any national integrity
commission to enable effective operation,
the advantages and disadvantages associated with domestic and
international models of integrity and anti-corruption commissions/agencies,
whether any national integrity commission should have broader
the necessity of any privacy and/or secrecy provisions,
- any budgetary and resourcing considerations, and
any reporting accountability considerations; and
any related matters.
On 9 August 2017, the Senate extended the reporting date to
13 September 2017.
The committee received and published 46 submissions, listed at Appendix
1. A further approximately 2098 campaign submissions were received and not
The committee took evidence from 57 witnesses over five days of public
Sydney on 12 May 2017;
Brisbane on 15 May 2017;
Melbourne on 17 May 2017; and
Canberra on 16 June and 5 July 2017.
The witnesses who appeared at these hearings are listed at Appendix 2.
The committee also received a number of additional documents, answers to
questions on notice and supplementary submissions, listed at Appendix 3.
The committee was empowered to access and refer to the evidence received
by the Select Committee on the Establishment of a National Integrity Commission
during the 44th Parliament, in addition to any new evidence received.
Select Committee on the Establishment
of a National Integrity Commission
This inquiry continues the work commenced by the Select Committee on the
Establishment of a National Integrity Commission (2016 select committee)
established during the 44th Parliament on 24 February 2016. The
2016 select committee tabled an interim report on 3 May 2016.
The 2016 select committee received 31 submissions during the 44th Parliament,
and held two public hearings in Canberra and Sydney.
The interim report provided 'an introduction to perceptions of corruption
in Australia', and concluded 'with a discussion of the existing national
anti-corruption framework, and the potential benefits and drawbacks of creating
a national anti‑corruption commissioner covering elements of public
The interim report contained a single recommendation:
...that the Australian Government support current and sound
future research into potential anti-corruption systems appropriate for
Australia including the research led by Griffith University, in partnership with
Transparency International Australia.
Structure and scope of this report
This report comprises four chapters. Chapter 1 outlines the conduct and
scope of the inquiry. Chapter 2 considers the Commonwealth's current multi-agency
integrity framework. Chapter 3 describes the existing state integrity
commissions. Chapter 4 concludes the report by outlining the arguments for and
against the establishment of a national integrity commission (NIC).
Scope of the inquiry
The committee was particularly tasked with considering the adequacy of
the current integrity arrangements and to ascertain whether a national
integrity commission should be established. As such, and consistent with the
2016 select committee's interim report, this report focuses on the integrity of
and anti‑corruption measures relating to Commonwealth public
administration in Australia.
The committee received many items of correspondence relating to
individual cases of alleged public sector mismanagement and corruption or
personal disputes between individuals and public sector agencies. These were
not accepted as submissions by the committee on the basis, in the committee's
opinion, these were not directly relevant to its terms of reference. However,
the volume, complexity and, in some cases, length of time over which many of
these cases span serve to demonstrate that the current integrity framework, at
both state and federal levels, can be difficult to comprehend and access, with
complainants often left wondering how, if at all, their complaint was resolved.
Integrity and corruption: other
Integrity and corruption refer to a broad range of activities and can be
conceptualised in a variety of ways. For the purpose of its inquiry, the
committee adopted a broad interpretation of integrity and corruption with a
view to facilitating wide-ranging discussion reflecting on what has already
been done by a number of Australian states but also contemplating what, if
anything, ought to be done in the future at the Commonwealth level.
It is not a static area of policy development and implementation. The
committee is aware that its work has occurred at the same time as other
developments in public sector integrity and anti-corruption. For example, the
Commonwealth government has been engaged for a number of years now in the Open
Government Partnership (OGP). In December 2016, the government released the
first OGP Action Plan in which it made a number of commitments in relation to
reviewing and strengthening the Commonwealth integrity framework (see chapter 2
for a more detailed discussion of the OGP).
The Commonwealth Public Interest Disclosure (PID) Scheme was implemented
in 2013 and provides processes and protections for whistleblowers in the
Commonwealth public sector. The PID Scheme is currently the subject of an
inquiry by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial
Services and so this committee has not endeavoured to consider the scheme in
The Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services intends to table its
report on 14 September 2017.
Similarly, while within the scope of public sector integrity and this
committee's inquiry, the matter of electoral donations, including foreign
donations, is the subject of an inquiry by the Joint Standing Committee on
Electoral Matters (PJSCEM) and so is not addressed in this report.
On 22 August 2017, the PJSCEM announced that, as part of its inquiry, it would
conduct a review of political donations.
Further consideration of political donations will also be undertaken by the
recently established Senate Select Committee into the Political Influence of
Donations, which is due to report by 15 November 2017.
With regard to the work of Parliament and parliamentarians, the Independent
Parliamentary Expenses Authority (IPEA) was established on 1 July 2017 as a
Commonwealth statutory authority to:
...audit and report on parliamentarians' work expenses. It will
provide advice to parliamentarians and their staff on travel and work related
expenses to support them in undertaking their duties, requiring that taxpayer
funds be spent appropriately and in compliance with the relevant principles and
As an agency, IPEA is in its infancy, however, as the agency becomes
more established and further legislative reform is implemented, it is expected
that the management and transparency of parliamentary expenses will be further
Other important collaborative work between academia, civil society
organisations and government agencies has also been underway. In May 2016,
a partnership—comprising Griffith University, Flinders University, the University
of the Sunshine Coast, Transparency International Australia, the New South
Wales Ombudsman, the Queensland Integrity Commissioner and the Queensland Crime
and Corruption Commission—was
funded by the Australian Research Council to establish the Australian Research
Council Linkage Project, Strengthening Australia’s National Integrity
System: Priorities for Reform (the linkage project).
In March 2017, the linkage project released its first discussion paper 'to
assist public and expert debate on key issues and options for the strengthening
of Australia’s systems of integrity, accountability and anti-corruption'.
That paper flagged future discussion papers to be released examining:
Strategic approaches to corruption
Australia’s integrity system: more
than just a sum of its parts?
The committee thanks those organisations and individuals that contributed
to its inquiry.
The committee extends special thanks to the Parliamentary Library which provided
valuable research and background information in support of the inquiry.
Note on references
References to the Committee Hansard may be references to a
proof transcript. Page numbers may differ between proof and final transcripts.
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